The KAJ Fall Classic swim meet will take place at H2O on Nov 23-24. View swim meet schedule for aquatic disruptions during this time. 

When we first moved to Kelowna, my mom, dad and two sisters were sharing a one-bedroom hotel room and there was no space for me, so I lived out of a van on the street.

I was in a really bad spot — both emotionally and mentally. I had low self-esteem, was fighting depression and didn’t have the confidence to be independent or employable.

As a youth, I didn’t have anyone to look up to, talk to or ask for help or advice; I did not know where to turn. I ended up visiting the Kelowna Friendship Society, who mentioned that the YMCA offered an employment program called Youth Works.

I was accepted into the program right away. Many of the youth, including me, come to the program without the basic necessities of food, proper shelter and clothing so finding a job can often be the least of our problems.

I developed so much self-confidence by making friends, obtaining certifications and networking with employers, that I landed a job at Antico’s pizza.

Gaining employment has changed my life. I now have stable shelter and can afford healthier food. With help from my mentor in the program, I was also granted bursaries that will allow me to attend Okanagan College this September to become a Health Care Assistant. I am walking taller and I couldn’t be more grateful.

—Aaron Dodds